President-elect Obama raised a stench in the gay community last month when it was announced that openly anti-gay Pastor Rick Warren would deliver the invocation at the inauguration next week. Yesterday it was announced that the Rt. Rev. Eugene Robinson will give the invocation at an inaugural kickoff ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday, two days before the inauguration itself.
Bishop Robinson is the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, and his consecration in 2003 set off a growing rift in that church’s parent body, the Anglican Communion. Since then, Bishop Robinson has become an internationally known spokesman for gay rights – a hero to some and an object of scorn to others. He and his long-standing partner had a church wedding last summer.
I suppose you could say that the invitation to Bishop Robinson was an attempt to make nice with the LGBT community, even though the Obama team says this invitation to Bishop Robinson has been in the works all along. Then why didn’t they say so back in December?
As I said in my original post, this ceremonial moment is just that, and what really matters is how an Obama administration will treat gay and lesbian citizens in thought, word and deed for the next four years. We’re already getting a hint that there will be a change in DADT, and that’s a meaningful step. But it’s only one.
If there’s a net upside to the invitation of Bishop Robinson, it’s that it has pissed off William Donohue, the self-appointed protector of Catholic decency who is fun to watch as he fulminates against everything.